Cape Town – While feeling vindicated by the judgment in the North Gauteng High Court to dismiss former premier Helen Zille’s application to have the Public Protector report on her controversial "colonialism tweets" reviewed and set aside, the provincial ANC called for a snap debate on the matter next week when the legislature is back in session.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane also welcomed the judgment.
On Tuesday, Pretoria High Court Judge Malebo Habedi dismissed Zille’s application with costs.
In a statement, the Office of the Public Protector said: “The public protector is pleased with the outcome of this particular matter because if you recall, the former premier had argued that in arriving at those particular conclusions the public protector had been irrational and that the report was riddled with material errors of law.”
Responding to the ruling, ANC leader of opposition in the provincial legislature Cameron Dugmore said: “As the ANC we welcome this ruling by the court, but it is a bittersweet outcome as the matter is now moot given that Helen Zille has now vacated office.
“We firmly believe her appeal was a deliberate attempt to escape accountability for her conduct which was clearly in breach of the Executive Code of Ethics Act,” said Dugmore.
The public protector had found that Zille’s tweet was in breach of the Constitution. Zille had caused a storm tweeting: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport, infrastructure, piped water, etc.”
The matter was referred to the Office of the Public Protector by the then-ANC leader of opposition, Khaya Magaxa.
The application to review and rescind the finding of the public protector by Zille was dismissed with costs.
Dugmore said: “As the ANC we believe that the DA and Helen Zille owe the people of our province and the country a public apology. Current DA Premier Alan Winde also needs to acknowledge the hurt caused by Zille’s tweets and apologise for his role in not challenging her at the time when he served as MEC in her provincial cabinet.
“The remedial action ordered by the public protector was that the matter should be referred to the legislature for it to take action against Zille while she was still premier,” added Dugmore
“This never happened. This was due to the unwillingness of former DA Speaker Sharna Fernandez to act speedily on the finding by the public protector and also due to Zille’s attempt to avoid accountability through her court application,” said the ANC leader.